Death makes brothers of us all

When I first thought of posting this, it was several weeks ago and I had just read about the loss of a friend from school, another friend I had met in the last couple of years and Facebook reminded me with their wonderful ‘on this day’ app that I had another friend commit suicide a few years ago. With the feeling of loss and inspiration, I was going to post these same thoughts then, but life continues to move forward, you follow it and some things get put off until another painful shot comes your way, reminding you of what you once started.

A couple days ago I was traveling with my kids across a few states that took me roughly 8 hours of driving, stops, and getting gas to finally reached my destination around 8 pm. Exhausted, I got on social media and started noticing similar posts only from my former high school classmates. Everyone was talking about him, asking for prayers, expressing disbelief, saddened for his children. It took up every other post in my news feed. Scrolling through the heartache and condolences, one post had a news article that said ‘fatal motorcycle wreck’. I clicked it, read it, saw the pictures that showed a motorcycle on its side and one empty boot laying in the middle of the road and as it closed the article and what happened, it ended with the name of the casualty. His name was Eric.

My stomach crumbled. He was in my graduating class. He was a father, son and brother. He was always kind to me and we were starting to catch back up on Facebook. Just the day before I commented on one of his posts to help encourage him.  And just like that, literally hours after that, he’s gone. And how, dear reader, how do you cope with that reality?

Death always brings questions. We always wonder why someone was taken, why they were so young, why now. We always feel better when we have the knowledge and reasoning behind certain events that occur. It makes us feel safer. And the reality is, we can’t know all of those answers. We can, though, trust that there is a higher power at work and is taking care of His ultimate plan. So in the case of trusting, what are we supposed to take away from death?

A small notion I have about people dying is for those of us who are in pain to remember the positive in their lives. That there is a reason we, the living, should be inspired by the dead in some way. We can look at the deceased and think about their qualities and adapt something from their lives into ours. Something that would help build us as better humans and bring us closer together. One bright aspect of death is that is does bring us all together. We cry on each other’s shoulders, hug family and friends we haven’t seen in ages, talk to those who we haven’t heard from, laugh about memories, console others, speak about the happier times in life and pay our respects to our brother that has passed from this life. On the final goodbyes that you say to them, be sure to thank them for however they impacted your life and live so that you are an inspiration when your time comes.

 

 

Do they even care it was Mothers Day?

Yesterday was mothers day and also one of my little ones birthday. We didn’t do too much considering we are still in transition for our move, but still  managed a few gifts, cupcakes, and a trip to the zoo playground. During each endeavor, I endured an astronomical amount of whining, sibling rivalry, and overall discontentment and all the while I was thinking, “it’s mothers day/ their sister’s birthday. Why of all days do they need to be this way?”

It got me thinking that maybe to my own kids, mothers day was undeserved to their own mother. Maybe they felt at the thought of mom being celebrated for today on their sister’s birthday was unfair or even, dare I say, pointless. After all, why only make it a big deal to celebrate mothers day one day of the year? Why not every Tuesday, or twice a month, or give her Saturday morning breakfast in bed? Why bother giving mom this one day of the year?

The obvious answer is because it is deserved. Moms go through an awful lot and often get a bad rap. We are judged by other moms and society, told what to do with every stage of motherhood, how to present ourselves and everything in between. So ONE day out of the year is not a lot to ask for, right? No it’s not. Here is the problem though. When someone that shows you unwavering love and support, the very least that can be done is giving them one day of happiness and relaxation. So why on earth didn’t my kids get that?

I laid down in my bed last night reflecting on the day. It started out well, they bought me candy and a card and made me some coffee. My mom made breakfast for us all and I cleaned up. Then sometime between that and saying happy birthday to my daughter, things went south. Older ones had fight after fight with an unlimited supply of back talk while the little ones just whined over everything. Per the birthday girls request, we went to the playground and I thought that this would help ease some tension. And I was so very wrong. We got home after and got ready for and went to church and came back for something quick to eat and a cupcake and went to bed.

Nothing unusual stood out. No one was really upset at anything particular and it really felt like one of those off days for the kids. Usually when that happens, I chalk it up as another day and sleep well at night. But because it was mothers day and a birthday, I felt that I deserved more than that. And that’s where I found the problem.

I spend day after day teaching my kids that if you love someone you should show them as much as possible. And as their mother, it’s important that we establish a relationship on trust, listening, communication and mutual respect. I teach them that love is a choice and an action and not just a feeling. So while they didn’t really focus on the day that was supposed to be dedicated to all moms or in our situation, me, I didn’t and shouldn’t feel unappreciated by my kids.

Like I’ve stated, we are in the middle of a move and it took me a couple weeks to pack, but they helped. We were trying to say byes to all of our friends and drive all over town day after day, through their tears, there wasn’t a single complaint. Some mornings they wake up before me and fed themselves and each other and I got a cup of tea or coffee. They ask me how I am feeling or let me take a nap without being loud. They do their chores through grumbling, but they do get done. They say sorry when they mess up. They hug me for no reason. They help with the baby if I am on the phone. They offer to help with dinner. They play games with each other. They take care of the dogs. They do their school work with minimal complaints.

I could list so much more but the point of listing at all was to show that although they may not have taken mothers day as serious as I would’ve liked, they take loving me and helping in the house pretty serious day to day. They of course still have moments throughout the days where they are grumpy or mouthy, but I can count on them to regularly get it together and make the day work for themselves and the rest of the family.

So when I went through the happenings of yesterday and then thought about how they are normally, I decided to chalk it up as an off day once again and went to sleep. And I am glad I did, this morning they woke up or were woken up, ate breakfast and started school with zero complaint and with good moods. Three hours later, the 3 that are still finishing up school for the school year are done and helping out with lunch.

Happy belated mothers day maybe?

 

Unscheduled meltdown

Yesterday I had a planned out day to get some art done, a video recorded, laundry caught up (or at least attempted) and finish up school with my kids. While I was reading outside with my kids and waiting to hear the dryer buzz, I was interrupted by my 6 year holding a lock of hair that didn’t belong to her. I asked her where she found it and she explained the whole situation to me and from behind her came my 3.5 year old daughter. One side of her hair reached to the middle of her back and the other side was to her shoulder. I sat there just staring at her in shock. And not because this was the first time I have seen this happen.

My three year old is my third daughter and fourth child. She is very aggressive and equally loving. Passionate is the word we like to use with her. She is also the third girl in my house to cut her own hair and the second girl in my hair to cut her hair twice. Both her and my first daughter cut their bangs to the base and then took chunks out again. My second only cut her hair once and I was able to turn it into a layer look and everything was fine. But this time, I had to cut my three year olds hair shorter that I ever had to before and thankfully, she was happy with it. She now looked like big sister who also sports and short hair cut.

The second daughter, who is 5, was feeling a bit left out. With every sister having short hair, she wanted her hair cut too. Now this really wouldn’t be a big deal, but she has been letting her curly-q hair grow out and it was long and myself and my husband were trying to make sure she understood what she was asking. 30 minutes later and a meltdown of still having long hair, I cut it. I took off 3 inches like she wanted and as soon as I was done. I hear sniffles.

She was quietly balling her eyes out and telling me how she didn’t really want her hair cut. She wanted it long again and missed her curls, etc. I felt so badly because I am the evil mom holding the scissors in her hand staring at her with disbelief. I instantly felt badly for her and also angry. I felt like I was literally set up for failure. I hugged her and told her that I was just doing what she wanted, but that didn’t matter much to her and honestly, why would it. We all have had bad hair cuts so everyone can sympathize with how badly she was feeling.

After she ‘accepted’ the situation she went outside to the trampoline to cry and soak in the sun. The dryer buzzed as I walked past to find my husband to tell him what had happened. He felt a little badly but also reminded me, she will be fine and hair grows back. Something we all know, but still. I had decided to let her pick the movie for our movie night and the dinner. That really did cheer her up.

Mothering can be so hard sometimes.

 

 

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Growth

This week has been so chaotic that I literally could not think of anything to write today. I have re written this post about five times because I want to give you something positive to start your week off tomorrow. So here we go.

Today’s post is really just a realization that I have grown in my artwork so much that I have become somewhat satisfied with my artwork, that is something I haven’t felt before. And honestly, I still don’t have a real chance to embrace it because, life is just plain hectic. There is so much going on with me right now that I seriously can’t just sit and indulge in my art. But its okay. At no point do I expect to be on top of every emotion and make sure things go according to my plan. My plan in life doesn’t matter as much as God’s plan.

Sure I get frustrated when things don’t go the ‘rational’ way I have conjured up in my mind, but I get over it. Life isn’t about stressing over every single thing that went wrong. It’s about growth. Growth in anything and everything you do. Family, spirituality, career, hobby, health, responsibilities, etc. Embrace what you can when you can and keep growing. If your life is busy, embrace it and be productive. If your life is slow paced, embrace it and still be productive. Life is only lived once and dwelling on each mishap until a new one arises only slows you down.

Since I can’t just sit and soak in my little accomplishment, I can grasp on to what I can and keep moving forward. And I am happy with that. One day I will be able to take time to look back and be happy at how hard I pushed  myself, or maybe not. Who knows? But I do know that you have what it takes to move forward and the will to accomplish what you want is there. So the only question you have to ask yourself is – Are you ready?

 

 

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The most nostalgic Christmas

Today is the last day of 2016. Some of you are reflecting on the year and feeling many emotions over it. Maybe it was really successful and you accomplished more than you expected and maybe you didn’t realize the year was ending and wished you had more time. You may also not care at all about the fact that a new year is approaching because its just another way for you to spend all of January (or the first half of 2017) accidently writing 2016 on everything. Whatever your feeling may be on the subject, I will still tell you happy New Years Eve and I hope 2017 is a great year for you.

I typically spent New Years thinking about all the good things that happened to me or the lessons I had to learn, with either life or general knowledge, and talk about them with others and listen to their stories as well. But as I reflected on 2016 there is one thing that holds my heart more than anything.

When I was a kid I lost most of my childhood toys. Under very sad circumstances, I was left with just a few things to show my kids that I had from growing up. Not every toy had a special meaning but a few did and unfortunately, those were the few I would never see again. I would tell stories about them a lot to my kids and husband and they thought they were so cool, because they were! A couple of those was a Tuggabows doll I would call ‘Big Head’ because when I was little, she was so big and had a very heavy head that was covered in yarn hair, and an orange towel like blanket that folded in the middle into a pillow and zipped up. The blanket had a flower embroidered on it with the word flower underneath it. A Japanese girl scout who spoke very little English gave it to me and also took me out for a day to see what the Japanese culture was like with her family.

Yeah, I told you they were cool. So this year, during our many Christmas’s at multiple families homes, my husband decided to give me my presents before we got back home. We were at his parent’s house and it was pure chaos. There were 18 of us there with only 17 unwrapping gifts (the 18th was still sleeping and growing in my sister in law’s belly! (;  ) and my husband hands me two big bags and says, ‘Here’. I knew he had been up something and he isn’t a mushy romantic, he’s more like an awkward romantic, it’s really cute. So after he hands me the bag, he steps back and watches me open the gifts. I pulled out a pillow that had a sunflower print all over it and realized it unfolded from the pouch into an orange blanket. I stood stunned and looked at him and my eyes started to water. Before I could say anything else he pointed to the other bag that had a Lalaloopsy doll with a head full of yarn hair. I smiled and laughed to myself and had to hug him. He had no idea what he was looking for when he was buying me those things but he wanted to do something for my old childhood self. And I can tell you now, she was very happy!

When I think of 2016 and my accomplishments, hardships, lessons learned, and fun times had, I am happy to be where I am now. But those few minutes over Christmas when I was standing in a living room that wasn’t my own, mother of 5 children, holding a doll and blanket that my husband bought for me, I felt blessed and elated. It was truly the best Christmas I had ever had.

Are you done wiping your eyes? Because I still tear up when I think about this and it was almost a whole week ago when it happened! But that’s what floods my memories and heart when I spend time reflecting on 2016. I am truly grateful for other things, my kids scoring high academically, publishing 2 coloring books, starting a blog, getting a novel half written, spending time with my husband, expanding  my art career and so much more. There were a lot of hardships also, but the way I handle those times are to remember the good that came from it and move forward. That wasn’t always easy but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have so many things to be grateful for.

I am glad about 2016 and am excited for 2017! What makes it better, is that my followers, supporters and patrons from Patreon, are here by my side! I can’t thank you guys enough for your encouragement and helping make all of this possible. I could just be sending words and pictures into the abyss of the internet, but you decided to stick around with me for my art and writing journey and that’s just amazing!

I hope you have a fun and safe evening bringing in the new year and as my husband would say “Happy New Year where the cubs won the world series since 1908″……..so there ya go! He’s always been a die hard fan!

Thank you all for being you! Happy New Year!

 

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The shadow in the mirror

I have rewritten this blog post about four times already. This is harder than I realized. When I came up with the drawing, it was inspired by some of my friends and family reflecting on how they have treated me at one point or another in my life. There was no particular conversation that really brought it on, no event that would have really triggered it, but it happened. As nice as an apology was to hear, it was also that twinge of a reminder of it happening and it sent me shooting back to the feeling I would get when I would go through any hard time in my life.

Per the title and illustration, you can see what I saw in the mirror when I was feeing less than what I am. They saw ‘Don’t let people get to you’, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’, ‘Always keep going forward’. It’s pretty sound advice in my opinion. I mean, why would I let someone else’s opinion of my life wreck my decision making and question my intelligence and make me feel incapable of living a good and happy life? Not that difficult, right?

Except when those are the people you trust and love and they turn to you and suddenly question you so much that it makes you step back and wonder, ‘Do you not know me?’ or ‘Don’t you understand how you are making me feel right now?’. It’s enough to make you hide in the shell you spent so hard coming out of. For me, it used to make me hate everything around me and wish myself invisible. But that, my friend, isn’t how life works.

That certainly proved true for me when I was going through this multiple times in my life. I was forced to see things clearer and remind myself of exactly who cares and who doesn’t. I was given new knowledge that I was unaware of until I accepted it. I was given the wisdom to know that some people don’t care and some do and others use me for a comfort.

After processing all the apologies for my past, I realized something about myself. I do keep moving forward. I do push through. I allow myself to feel my feelings but I don’t let them bring me down. I don’t abide by everyone’s opinion of a happy life. I realized that I have had to push myself on my own because at the end of the day, I was all I needed to keep going on. That’s not an easy skill to obtain, but I plan on mastering it.

The shadow eventually went away over time. I am thankful for that. A lot of that has to do with my own spiritual journey and how I can live the Christian life I want to live regardless of the obstacles. The mirror simply shows me the way I look now, not who I am. Took me a long time to train my mind to see myself that way and now, I feel happy from it. I needed me to accept myself for what I was made to do. Though I am still discovering this life long path, I do feel that now, more than ever, I am on the right one. And if I am totally wrong, then I hope for God’s grace to lead me down the right path in my life.

 

About the illustration:

I wanted to make sure that I (the one looking in the mirror) stood out with color and making sure everything around me was dull and a bit washed out. When I would get in a bad place in my life, I would often see the world this way. Not literally of course but its the feeling that I would get from everything around me. I drew myself as how I look now (with slightly longer hair) because it was recently that I did my reflecting on my life and realized what I had gone through. I couldn’t come up with a way to make the mirror look like a time warp of some sorts without adding color, so I decided to just make it odd looking and a bit out of place. The shadow reflection has to no place in my life anymore and the mirror, showing me the wrong image of myself, doesn’t either.

 

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Fun for Hours for those who enjoy a good coloring challenge!

Stressed Out!! for those who need to let out some steam without the profanity!

Cloud watching

The other day I was visiting a friend at her house. It was a surprisingly beautiful considering where I live.  Here the word hot is equivalent to humid. They are one in the same. And it’s usually like that up until November and then it gets cold, but the fact that our bodies have been adjusting most of the year to living in a sauna, the drop in temperature seems to send us all into shock and we all of a sudden have to wear parkas and crank the heat. But that’s not why I wanted to talk to you today.

After our kids were done eating and started playing outside, we decided to follow them. We were going to go for a walk before my son reminded me that none of my children had shoes. Five sets of feet and zero shoes. That’s when I remembered my famous words to my kids right before we left, ‘don’t worry about shoes, we are only staying for a little bit after dinner’. Well, two hours and a half hours later, we’re not back home and still no shoes. So we opt to stay and hang out in the yard chatting and watching the kids play.

A gentle breeze started picking up. It held the sent of grass and flowers in it.  Tickling our skin and hair, I couldn’t help but soak it in. The noise around me started dying out and I stared at the clouds. They moved across the sky with ease. I laid down in the yard and starting saying a prayer of thanks.  There is so much more in life than no shoes for a walk. There is so much more than stressing over all the little things in life. Though it’s not always easy to remember that.

God has given us an entire planet. Filled with beautiful colors and soft clouds. I got lost in that for a moment. I let God take my worries and cares and in return he gave me peace. I looked around me and others had followed my lead. It was, in a word, serene.